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4 charged in death of 5-year-old boy left in day care van for over 8 hours

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — Four employees have been charged in the death of a 5-year-old Arkansas boy who was left in a day care van for more than eight hours.

The boy may have been asleep when the van arrived at the day care early Monday. He never got off the van, which remained in the parking lot.

Christopher Gardner Jr. was found dead in his booster seat eight hours later.

West Memphis Police Chief Donald Oakes says the four could have stopped the child’s death had they done their jobs correctly, WMC reports.

Ascent Children’s Health Services CEO Dan Sullivan said in a statement the staff did not follow protocol. Had they followed protocol “this tragedy would not have occurred,” he said.

The statement read, “There are simply no words to express the overwhelming sadness we feel at the death of this child. We are heartbroken and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. Ascent will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities and state agencies as they investigate this tragic incident.”

The temperature in the day care parking lot was 91 degrees Monday afternoon when authorities responded to the incident.

The employees’ identities have not been revealed.